Scottsdale Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn


The Knife & Fork


Breakfast Club Finally Returns to Sedona/Mesa Grille



10 Dec 2011

by Warren McIlvoy



When the crack(ed) Breakfast Club Event Committee met in November of 2010 to concoct the itinerary for 2012, we had heard that the new restaurant would be opening in 2011.  The problem was that there was no specific date that this would occur.  We truly wanted to return to one of the most frequently visited destination for the now famous “$350 ham and eggs” so we felt that scheduling the fly-in for a date late in the year would give the new restaurant some time to finally open and allow them to get established.  December was selected and, though it might not be the best time for dinning on the patio (we did not know if they would even have one) as the winter chill might a bit overwhelming.


December has arrived and the Mesa Grill ( has been open for a little more than 3-months and the weather, all-be-it, on the chilly side, was ideal for our return to Sedona.  The temperatures were in the low 40’s but the winds were light, all of which, are just perfect for aviating.   I am not overly fond of “cold” weather but airplanes are in their glory in such conditions.  Departing on runway 7R at DVT, we were climbing-out at 90kts with climb rates nearing 1500’ per minute.  The only problem with that is that with the nose of the aircraft in such an elevated attitude, you can not see a thing in front of you.  In theory, there is not supposed to be anything there but I prefer to see if there are any gremlins lucking about.


Once we got clearance from the controllers for our left turn to the north, I set a direct course for SEZ.  I leveled-off at 6500’ but could have easily climbed to 8500’ but with the cool air, 6500’ should provide a turbulence free flight that I most likely would not do in the summer time.  The only high terrain along the route is Black Mountain that is on the south edge of the Verde Valley and even that was well off to our right.  Once over the Verde Valley, we instantly gained 3000’ of ground clearance.  There was a lot of chatter on our “flight following” frequency and most of us choose to fly over Bell Rock that is about 4-miles to the south of the Sedona Airport. 


At 6500’, you are 500’ above pattern altitude for the mid field cross-over to the left downwind approach to runway three but it also gives you the option of continuing to the north just a tad and doing a “teardrop” entry to the 45-degree entry into left downwind.  There was a lot of traffic in the area but it was well spaced thus negating the need to employ the 45-degree entry.  The wind was 040 at 11 kts so landing on 03, which is always the preferred runway at SEZ, was mandatory.  Since this is an uphill runway, the addition of the headwind would make the landing roll, impressively short.  I made the first turn-off with easy which is deeply appreciated by the traffic that had just turned final. 


I was not the first to arrive but parking was in ample supply.  Upon opening the door, the wind, along with the 40-degree temperature, translated in a wind chill factor of about -5-degrees (or at least it seemed like it).  I only had a light jacket on which was far less than appropriate for these conditions.  After backing the airplane into the parking slot, I remained on the ramp only long enough to get a few photos of arriving aircraft and headed to the restaurant for some warmth and hot “rocket fuel” otherwise know as coffee.


For some reason, Sedona has had an allure for newly minted private pilots for as long as I can remember.  Before I earned my ticket, my wife and I flew with a friend to this pilot retreat some time in the very early 1980’s.  In those days, there was no taxiway so clearly communicating you intentions was an absolute must.  Even today, Sedona is among the very first places that a pilot takes his friends to after being sprung from the nest.  The original restaurant was called Stretche’s and the old place was filled with everything aviation and it held more charm than Kay’s Jewelers. 


As the place became even more popular with the pilot population and Saturday morning became akin to a beehive, the airport eventually added a taxiway that removed some of the thrill and excitement from arriving and departing the runway.  And speaking of the runway, it has a very perceptible un-hill tilt to the northeast that makes landing on runway 3 and departing on 21, the norm.  Only when the wind is gusting and strong enough out of the south requiring a landing on 21, that one gets to hone their skills in landing on a downhill runway.  The Sedona Airport (SEZ) is situated on the top of a 400’ high mesa with the runway abruptly ending at the edges of both ends and due to this arrangement, the landing takes on the characteristics of landing on an aircraft carries sans the arresting cables.  Over the years, the airport has earned the nickname of the “USS Sedona”.


A couple of years ago and after the operators of the restaurant decided that they had had enough of the restaurant business, the City decided to raze the old structure and erect a new restaurant.  However, the plans were put on hold as the City could not attract the attention of anyone who might be interested in operating the place.  Without an airport restaurant, there was little incentive on flying into Sedona just to look at the red rocks from the airport ramp.  Red Rock Aviation did have a deal where they would lend you a vehicle if you purchased fuel and then you could venture into town in search of that “$350 hamburger”.  The fuel costs were a bit rich for most of the pilot cadre and I never heard from any reliable source weather this was much of a draw.  Late in 2010, the City announced that they were proceeding with the construction of the new restaurant facility that was, essentially, in the same location as the old building but would have a totally different architecture.  It was some time in the early spring of 2011 that the renderings of what the new place would look like, hit the Sedona Airport website and shortly after that the City announced that they had an operator in tow.  The Breakfast Club event committee scheduled the fly-in for the end of the year to allow plenty of time for all of the dominos to fall into place before our visit. 


Some folks have commented that they felt that the old restaurant had better views but I don’t agree.  Unless you had a window seat, you could see very little of the runway activity.  The new place has the entire southwest facing wall made entirely of windows that reach all the way to the elevated ceiling.  The patio also has full view of the runway but is a little bit limited as for viewing the ramp. 


The menu for the old place had a touch of a southwestern flare but the new restaurant has also the same traditional breakfast items but with a Continental touch.  The prices are slight higher but not overly so.  With this visit, I have been here on two occasions and have found the food very tasty. 


When I made the reservations for the Breakfast Club visit, the person with whom I was speaking with, thought that we had already reserved some tables but it turned-out to be a bunch of Bonanza people that would be there about an hour later.  As it was, we had about five tables that were all essentially in the same area.  The place was pretty full with the exception of the patio that was not at all conducive to outdoor dinning due to the cold brisk wind.  Even with a “full-house” we had pretty good service and our entrees arrived in a very reasonable amount of time.


With the enthusiastic winds out of the northeast, we though that maybe we would have to use runway three for an uphill take-off but by the time that we finished our meal, the winds had calmed-down to the point that we could use the customary runway 21 departure.  Although it was still a bit on the cool side, it was considerably more comfortable without the winds. 


The Sedona Congregation


  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 93MB, BC-1 & 1.5
  • Roger Whittier, Gwen Cooper, Honey Hurlotta, and Harold Jordan in 706CD, BC-122
  • Richard Azimov and Jordan Ross in 6864Q, BC-2 & BC-11
  • Austin Erwin and Rich Kupiec in 4280W, BC-86 & BC-47
  • Tim Yoder and Trent Heidtke in 52TY, BC-52
  • Larry Jensen and Austin Goodwin in 14LJ, BC-65 & BC-317
  • John and Nick Rynearson in 3501S, BC-117
  • Paul Fortune in 31870, BC-201
  • Jim Palmer, Robert Villegas, and Jayson Casillas in 9313H
  • Steve Loyer and Jacob Thompson in 8968M
  • Doug Doearman, Libby Vance, and Greg Coomans in 2493Q, BC-69 & BC-48
  • Tony Rache in 2931M, BC-31


What’s Next?


The new and improved 2012 version of the Breakfast Club Event Calendar will be posted following this event but I can say for sure that we will kick-off our 18th year of fly-in events with a visit to a very friendly and scenic Payson, Arizona and the Crosswinds Café.  That all for now but remember, fly safe.


To view photos of this fly-in event to Sedona, click on the link below.


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